Rise Out of the Ashes

TAGS: alcohol abuse, drug abuse, dysfunctional family, Chris Tutela, motivation, coaching, success, risk

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Let me tell you a quick story.

I grew up in a household with constant fighting and tension. I love both of my parents to death, but their relationship was extremely toxic. This environment led to a lot of fear and worry for me growing up.

As a result, I was extremely shy and insecure as a kid.

My father always talked about how he got into all of these fights when he was younger (he was the typical Italian dude from Newark) and got into all of this trouble when he was in school. Certainly not the best parenting, but fighting and getting into trouble were literally all he knew.


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When I got to middle school, I started to act up and get into trouble because I looked up to my father and thought that getting into trouble would actually make him proud. Oddly enough, I think it did. I went from an honor roll student to failing classes and spending my Saturday mornings in detention.

I was smoking pot and drinking booze at a young age, which kicked up a notch when I hit high school. I was smoking and partying every weekend, but luckily, I had football practice to keep me slightly in check.

My older brother, Michael, on the other hand, had nothing to keep him in check. He went down the road of drugs and partying pretty fast. By the time I was a junior in high school, Michael already had a problem with cocaine and painkillers. When I was 17, he went to rehab for about six hours, signed himself out, and continued to speed down the path of addiction.

Chris Tutela

From the age of 17, my life revolved around Michael. I was always trying to stay one step ahead of him but never seemed to be able to. He was getting high and destroying our family from the inside out. He stole tens of thousands of dollars, jewelry, and everything else from my family, as well as many others. We got into fistfights, verbal fights, broke things around the house (including my hand), and even had the police involved a few times. I felt stuck, frustrated, and heartbroken. Watching my mother cry herself to sleep at night was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced.

I watched his sickness destroy everything in its path, including me.

That resulted in years of sadness for me. I was drinking excessively and had a hard time getting to sleep at a normal hour. I stayed up until 5 a.m. and would wake up around 3:30 p.m. I never wanted to be home; I was fat, anxious, fearful, depressed, and confused, and I had no direction or vision for my life. My home felt anything but safe.

I was 20 years old and had no idea what I wanted to do. I was training people for a couple of years, but I never really thought I could do it for a living.

But somewhere along the line, something clicked for me. I realized that I couldn’t fix Michael and took a step back. I realized that I couldn’t change the way my parents handled the situation, so I stopped trying.

I shifted my focus on helping myself. I couldn’t stand the man I saw in the mirror, so I’d go to war with him in the gym every single day.

I put myself through brutal workouts to the point of extreme exhaustion and vomited at least three days per week (that’s not something I’d recommend).

But I started to realize how much hard physical training helped me get through the difficult times that I was going through. I wasn’t as angry anymore. I wasn’t afraid anymore. I found myself in the gym and put myself to the test by working myself to the bone. People twice my size asked me for advice.

I started to realize who I wanted to be.

This was so helpful for me that I started taking real pride in training people. I was excited and eager to help everyone I worked with and became obsessed with training.

I started reading articles, books, taking certifications, and attending events.

My clients were able to see my passion and were getting incredible results, and so I started to develop a bit of a following.

By 2012, I had enough of a following to start my own business. People ask me if it was scary for me to open a business at 25, but I guess I was too stupid to realize the risk that I was taking. I was so sure that I would succeed that I never really saw a risk. Young and naive, I guess...


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Coincidentally, two months after opening up my training facility, I was hired by a small career fire department in New Jersey. I thought to myself, “Hell yeah, now I can work two jobs and crush it!” But it didn’t really work out that way.

After a few months of working for the fire department, I was struggling to keep my training business alive. I had some clientele, but barely enough to pay the bills. If it weren’t for the fire department, I would have never been able to keep the lights on. I was digging into my own pocket just to keep things afloat. Getting that job truly was a blessing. The only problem was that I hated working for the fire department.

My true calling was coaching people, and the fire department was taking me away from that, though I will be forever grateful for having the opportunity to work for the fire department. It was my livelihood for four years, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the experience I had there, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

Once again, I felt stuck. I loved coaching more than anything but wasn’t making any real money doing it. I hated my job as a fireman, but it came with a great salary, a great schedule, and great benefits. How could I just walk away from all that? People probably thought I was crazy.

But I knew that I didn’t want to be a firefighter for the next 25 years, and I needed a way out. After about four years of working at the fire department, I had enough of it and wanted to move on. I was down to six clients at Tutela Training Systems and had no idea how to market or get more people through the door. So I threw up a Hail Mary.

I invested money that I didn’t have into hiring a business coach. I didn’t know it at the time, but that decision changed the course of my life.

A few months after hiring my now friend and mentor, Bedros Keuilian, in late 2015, my business went from six clients to about 30, which helped me in my decision to roll the dice and quit the fire department. Since then, I never looked back.

I can proudly say that we now have over 110 members here at Tutela Training Systems, and we are still growing at a rapid pace. We have three full-time employees, and we have helped several interns find their way in strength and conditioning.

This little gym that at one point almost folded is now a six-figure business and will soon be a seven-figure business! Please don’t take that the wrong way. I’m not telling you this to try and impress you, but rather to impress upon you that anything you want in life is possible.

I am certainly not the smartest, nor am I the biggest or the strongest. I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth, grew up in an extremely toxic home surrounded by addiction, and didn’t have any real guidance. I was once lost, and I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to do with my life. I was a loser. I was drinking alcohol often and was overweight and depressed. But I decided to make a change. I decided to use my darkness for light.

I have an extreme passion for helping people. I have an extreme passion for coaching. And without the shit that I’ve gone through, I may have never realized that, and I certainly would not be making the impact on the lives of other people like I am today.

My message for you is if you’re going through something difficult in your life, please realize that it does not have to lead to a lifetime of pain and suffering. You can do good with it. Your story is powerful, and you can change lives with it! Use it for good. Use it for fuel to motivate you and other people!


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If you’re stuck in a situation the way I felt stuck in my life, you can get yourself out! This is no easy task, and you’ll have to work like hell, but it can be done.

If I can do it, then you sure as hell can, too! You just have to believe in what you’re doing and use whatever it is that you’re going through as your energy. Thrive off of it and let it propel you to success!

Those who laugh at you, doubt you, criticize you, and put you down can be used as fuel, too. I don’t suggest you argue with them or hold onto anything they say about you. That can become toxic. But right now, you can use them as motivation to get you out of this funk that you’re in.

Throughout your entire life, you have been told to play it safe, so you settled for something you aren’t totally happy with.

Well, today is the day that all changes. Today I am telling you to take risks. Roll the fucking dice! You only get to live this life once; live it the way you want! It’s possible; I’m living proof of that.

But now it’s up to you to make the change.

If your heart is truly in it, you will make it happen. You just have to go.

So... go.

Stop waiting for the perfect time. It doesn’t exist. Put your head down and go to fuckin’ work right now!

In the past, you’ve been burned. But now, it’s time to rise out of the ashes.

Rise.

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